SEATTLE TIMES

March 8, 2017

 

Mercer Canyons agrees to $1.2M settlement of Washington farmworker lawsuit

 

The farmworkers’ lawsuit alleged that some were misled about the availability of $12-an-hour jobs offered to foreign workers under a work-visa program. Other U.S. farmworkers got jobs, but were underpaid, the lawsuit claimed.

 

Mercer Canyons, of Alderdale, Klickitat County, will pay $1.2 million to Yakima Valley farmworkers under a lawsuit settlement that gained initial approval this week in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington.

The plaintiffs have been represented by Columbia Legal Services.

Their lawsuit alleged that some farmworkers were misled about the availability of $12-an-hour jobs offered to foreign workers under a temporary work-visa program. Other U.S. farmworkers did obtain jobs, but were underpaid, the lawsuit alleged.

In April, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Bastain found that the case could proceed as a class-action lawsuit, and that ruling — after an appeal to the 9th Circuit — was upheld. The certified class includes domestic migrant and seasonal farmworkers who were employed as vineyard workers by Mercer Canyons in 2012 and part of 2013, or sought employment in 2013.

A final approval hearing for the settlement is expected this summer.